EMERGENCY

More than 600 people evacuated from Queen Mary Hospital area as two controlled blasts destroy a rusty wartime bomb

Police disposal units called in after construction site workers unearth ordnance in Pok Fu Lam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2015, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 October, 2015, 3:29am

More than 600 people were evacuated from the Queen Mary Hospital area last night after an unexploded bomb was found in a construction site.

Two controlled explosions in Pok Fu Lam on last night destroyed an unexploded bomb fired by the Japanese military during the second world war, police said.

The 150mm high-explosive projectile was “very likely” shot from Kowloon at military fortifications on Hong Kong Island in 1941, police assistant bomb disposal officer Nestor Lai Ngo-yau said.

Lai said the 60-cm-long bomb, which could have damaged objects within 100 metres had it exploded on its own, was at a “ready-to-go” condition and “at a very dangerous position” when unearthed.

“It was as close as 30 metres to the nearest residential block, so we had to make sure everyone had evacuated before we could do anything,” he said, referring to the protective measures adopted before police undertook the two controlled explosions at 9pm and 11pm.

The two attempts were needed because the bomb was thicker than expected, he added.

The second controlled explosion sent debris spraying over roads, after police failed to destroy the device with a smaller explosion initially.

Around 610 people were evacuated from the site and buildings within 100 metres, including a nursing school and residential blocks, earlier in the evening after construction workers discovered the ordnance at the site of the hospital’s redevelopment project at about 4.40pm.

Speculation mounted as to whether the rusting device was a wartime bomb.

“As a suspected explosive device has been unearthed … staff of the neighbouring office blocks and the redevelopment site have been evacuated with the assistance of the police,” the hospital said at the time.

Hospital services, including those for accidents and emergencies and inpatients, were not affected, the hospital said.

A road leading to the site was closed, but traffic on Pok Fu Lam Road - a major thoroughfare in the district - was not affected.

No one was reported injured.

It is not the largest evacuation the hospital has seen following the discovery of a suspected bomb. On March 17, 2000, a US-made M64 bomb - dropped by warplanes during the Japanese occupation and containing 127kg of TNT explosives - was unearthed at a road construction site at the junction of Pok Fu Lam Road and Bisney Road, about 80 metres from the hospital.

It triggered a shutdown of the emergency services and an evacuation of 1,400 people from two hospital blocks.